In Review... January 26, 2019

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Looking for some good reads this weekend? Here’s our latest batch of reviews!


Non-Fiction/Spiritual Growth
WHAT IF IT’S TRUE: A Storyteller’s Journey with Jesus
Charles Martin

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Taking the same storyteller’s heart that has made his novels so soul-deep meaningful - and channeling it into a non-fiction platform - Martin challenges readers to see Jesus on a more personal level than ever before. Bringing scenes from Jesus’ life, death and resurrection vividly to life, this prolifically talented author also shares his own struggles and progress on the journey with an honest and authentic voice. Sometimes raw, sometimes almost graphic (while maintaining a tasteful tone), each chapter aims right at the soul and hits its mark every time. This is a book that readers will be tempted to devour in one sitting but would be best savored and reflected upon slowly, allowing the sensory visuals and profound truths to fully sink into the heart. (THOMAS NELSON, Jan., 320 pp., $24.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Bookmarked Review

Historical Romance
A RETURN OF DEVOTION
Kristi Ann Hunter
SERIES: Haven Manor #2

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Hunter continues to dive deep into the written world of nobility and their secrets in the second book of the Haven Manor series. As Daphne’s haven - and secret - threatens to implode with the arrival of a marquis with an obvious connection to her past, readers will be roped into the emotional thread and the ironically unpretentious storyline. Sincere and genuine, the author skillfully incorporates wit and depth amid the intricacy of emotions in both the storytelling and the dialogue. What at first seems like a simple romance novel in fact blossoms into a profound story about finding the courage to forgive and to move forward. (BETHANY HOUSE, Feb. 2019, 400 pp., $14.99)

Reviewer: Annie Sturt

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Remember that your pride isn’t as valuable as you think it is. Keeping it might cost you more than you
could imagine.
— A Return of Devotion

Inspirational Historical Romance
A DESPERATE HOPE
Elizabeth Camden
SERIES: Empire State Novels #3

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Camden excels at taking little-known bits of history and bringing them vividly to life, particularly those actions that dramatically changed the lives of those immediately affected and the world as we know it. In her Empire State novels, she has done exactly this, and the third novel again keeps readers riveted, this time to the early stages of New York’s aqueducts - and the towns in its path. The people of Duval Springs tug at the heartstrings as they valiantly do whatever it takes to save their beloved community in the face of imminent domain. Alex and Eloise’s relationship - from childhood friendship to first romance to distant strangers - leaves readers with plenty of swoony moments as they slowly find a new footing, and the growth in each of their characters warms the heart. A dash of suspense adds a different kind of tension, rounding out the novel with something for everyone. (BETHANY HOUSE, Feb, 352 pp., $29.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Amish Suspense
AMISH SAFE HOUSE
Debby Giusti
SERIES: Amish Witness Protection #2

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Giusti’s latest is part two of the Amish Witness Protection continuity series, but it can be read as a standalone. Julia and her family find themselves in the crosshairs of a local gang, and the witness protection program is their only hope of staying alive, though they didn’t expect to find themselves in an Amish community with Abraham, who is leery to give his heart away again. While there are a few lulls midway through the book, the action keeps the reader hanging on through the twists and turns. Romance takes a bit of a backseat to the suspense in this non-typical Amish-themed tale that will have the reader questioning just what price Abraham will pay to keep his charges safe. (LOVE INSPIRED, Feb., 224 pp, $5.99)

Reviewer: Leslie L. McKee

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Gold Star Review

Time-Slip Romance/Women’s Fiction
THE SECRETS OF PAPER AND INK
Lindsay Harrel

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Harrel delivers a wonderfully unexpected and skillfully executed adventure of love, loss, and healing. The ebb and flow of perspectives between two modern-day women and the life of a mysterious Victorian woman mesmerizes and captivates. While each woman’s life is individually compelling, when intricately stitched together into the same tapestry, the result is unforgettable and breathtaking. Book lovers will be right at home in (or perhaps envious of) the quaint and cozy Cornwall bookstore and intrigued by the historical journal’s mystery. The author champions the soothing balm of friendship and community, all while exuding a spiritual strength, hope, and irrefutable faith-based identity in the face of brokenness, desperation, and betrayal. (THOMAS NELSON, Feb., 336 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Beth Erin

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On the outside, I was a simple woman, with a simple life. I did not, however, have simple dreams.
— The Secrets of Paper and Ink

Western/Historical Romance
HEALING HEARTS
Sarah Eden
SERIES: Savage Wells #2

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Eden weaves fact and fiction effortlessly into the pages of this story where readers will get the chance to explore the repercussions and influences of mental health in the 1870's. While many of the situations are the same as we face today, the knowledge and treatment were primitive at best and make for some intriguing reading. Miriam is a heroine that makes her own mark - plucky, defensive, and independent - and she will go to any length to protect her past. With a communication mix-up that adds levity to the story, this sweet romance will seep into the heart. The descriptions of the Wyoming Territory of 1876 are vivid and bright; for example, Eden paints pictures in a way that allows readers to feel and hear the wind blow across the open plains.  (SHADOW MOUNTAIN, Feb, 336 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Patsy Glans/Rachel Dixon

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Juvenile Nonfiction
LIES GIRLS BELIEVE: And the truth that sets them free
Dannah Gresh

As readers on the precipice of adolescence help a new friend with questionable situations that arise after Gresh addresses common misconceptions, a foundation of truth is formed. From topics of boys, family, friendships, appearance, and more, each lie is combated with biblical truth in this conversational, colorful, and interactive manual. In addition, readers are given the tools to identify other lies in their lives and counteract them by seeking out God’s word and talking to their parents or a trusted mentor when questions arise. Gresh equips girls ages 8-12 by offering ways to identify “sticky” feelings and talk about difficult topics with their parents or mentors. The companion book, A Mom’s Guide to Lies Girls Believe, allows mothers to follow along with their charges as they seek out answers to some of today’s most common lies. (MOODY, Feb., 176 pp., $12.99)

Reviewer: Suzie Waltner

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You become the most beautiful to God when you get excited about wearing things like kindness, helpfulness, and cheerfulness, rather than some cool new shoes, or a great lip gloss.
— Lies Girls Believe

Gold Star Reviews are for those books that are just truly in a class by themselves. Given rarely.

Bookmarked Reviews are for those books you'll definitely want to put on your 'keepers' shelf! Given sparingly.

For more on our review philosophy, click HERE

In Review... December 7, 2018

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Happy FRI-YAY! We hope you are staying warm and snug if you’re in the path of this weekend’s winter storm. A good rule of thumb is to keep 10 books on hand for every 1 person in your house, just in case you get snowed in! Here’s a batch to get you started :)


Inspirational Historical Fiction
THE PLUM BLOOMS IN WINTER
Linda Thompson
SERIES: Brands From the Burning #1

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This debut novel, inspired by a true story presents an emotionally compelling look at the complexities of defeat and the awesome power of forgiveness. As the author follows the often gritty journeys of an American Doolittle Raider and a Japanese woman through WW2, she gives readers an intriguing perspective from both sides of the war and enables them to put themselves in the characters' shoes. The contrast of prisons in different forms - not all of them with visible bars or easily escaped - further drives home the story's deeper meaning. Readers will like Linda Thompson's novel as she weaves long-ago facts into a roller coaster ride of emotions. Have a box of tissues at the ready for the unexpected turns that this road to forgiveness takes. (MOUNTAIN BROOK INK, Nov., 360 pp., $13.99)

Reviewer: Patsy Glans/Carrie Schmidt

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Inspirational Romantic Suspense/Christmas
HOLIDAY AMNESIA
Lynette Eason
SERIES: Wrangler’s Corner

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When Robin Hardy can’t remember the past six months, how can she possibly know Toby Potter is who he claims to be? Yet, the connection to the man is ingrained deeper than her memory because despite the edge of anger she feels toward him, she believes she can trust him. Toby has his own worries—keeping Robin alive and wondering when she will remember his betrayal. The action is intense, the stakes are high, and the law enforcement agents are abundant in Wrangler’s Corner. With little to go on as far as suspects for most of the book, Toby and Robin are forced into defensive mode. Lynette Eason masterfully blends tension, strong emotions, and a burgeoning romance that will leave readers engaged until truths are revealed. (LOVE INSPIRED SUSPENSE, Dec., 224 pp., $5.99)

Reviewer: Suzie Waltner

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Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Historical Fiction/Romance
SEARCHING FOR YOU
Jody Hedlund
SERIES: Orphan Train #3

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Be prepared for an epic journey in this conclusion of Hedlund’s Orphan Train series. Sophie’s long-awaited journey captivates as she travels on an unknown road to freedom and safety. Hedlund’s words sink into the heart and soothe the soul, causing readers to melt into the story. With irresistible passion, the power of truth, the strength of family, the truth that ‘family’ does not always mean blood, and a genuine faith thread that Hedlund is skilled at portraying, Searching for You is a perfectly balanced binge-worthy read. Historical Fiction lovers should put this one at the top of their reading list. (BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS, Dec, 352 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon

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Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Historical Fiction/Romance
SO BRIGHT A HOPE
Amber Lynn Perry
SERIES: Daughters of His Kingdom #5

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Find adventure in the heart of the American Revolution in this riveting tale of romance and espionage. With unique perspectives given throughout the story, readers will be able to grasp a well-rounded view of the circumstances that throw British Captain Higley and the Patriot, Miss Whitney, together. An admirable woman, a dashing officer, Perry delivers a heated passion in the most tasteful of ways!  Filled with rich vocabulary, intriguing characters, and vivid details, readers will be glued to their reading chair as they uncover the secrets hidden within these pages. (LIBERTY PUBLISHING, Dec, 403 pp., $2.99 ebook)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon

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A room was not a room without a book.
— So Bright a Hope

Inspirational Split-Time Romance
WHO I AM WITH YOU
Robin Lee Hatcher
SERIES: Legacy of Faith #1

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Hatcher weaves a story of betrayal, forgiveness and faith in her latest novel. Readers can easily relate to Jessica and Ridley as strong yet flawed characters. Showing the importance of not taking situations at face value, Jessica and Ridley take the time to really get to know each other rather than judge each other based on circumstances. In this seamless time slip novel, Hatcher provides inspiration in each character’s growing relationship with the Lord, and prompts readers to reflect on their own journey. This story of loss and redemption is sure to win the hearts of contemporary and historic romance fans alike. (THOMAS NELSON, Dec., 320 pp. $15.99)

Reviewer: Jessica Baker

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Contemporary Romance (clean)
CHRISTMAS AT PRESCOTT INN
Cathryn Parry

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Parry gives a delightfully fun story that showcases the highs and lows of the business world. Set at the perfect time of year for miracles to happen, readers will witness Nathan and Emilie overcome their past and gain footing on a bright, new future. Nathan learns to balance good business decisions with those from the heart, with a little help from a young lad, a past love, and a loyal niece. Filled with wonderful characters and a picturesque setting, this charming Christmas story will warm reader’s hearts as they enter the holiday season. (HARLEQUIN HEARTWARMING, Dec., 384 pp. $4.99)

Reviewer: Jessica Baker

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Inspirational Contemporary Romance
A COWBOY IN SHEPHERD’S CROSSING
Ruth Logan Herne
Series: Shepherd’s Crossing #2

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Fans of small-town stories will fondly relate to the common challenges faced and unifying sense of home shared by folks who live in tight-knit communities like Shepherd’s Crossing, Idaho. Melonie, a driven and ambitious southern belle, is determined to make her mark on the world. She is a complex and compassionate character, reluctant to reconnect with the ranching culture, yet delightfully sassy. Jace’s work-ethic and compassion alone make him a winsome hero. With the tip of his authentic cowboy hat, the challenges he works through make Jace a genuinely swoon-worthy character. Herne skillfully uses the bold beauty’s arrival and an unexpected revelation to shake things up for the cowboy carpenter hero to engage minds and emotions with themes of adoption, identity, diversity, and integrity. (LOVE INSPIRED, Dec., 224 pp. $5.99)

Reviewer: Beth Erin

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Young Adult Fiction
GONE TOO SOON
Melody Carlson

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When favorite daughter Hannah dies in a terrible car accident, her family is left reeling. When Kiera discovers Hannah’s diary, she finds the perfect daughter was hiding some horrible secrets of her own and fears the family will be torn apart by grief and guilt. This book is raw, emotional and points to struggles even Christians can face. While the writing style may not be for everyone, this book would be an excellent read for young adults dealing with loss, anger and family issues. Recommended for readers 14 and up; parents may wish to pre-read so as to be ready to discuss. (WHITE SPARK PUBLISHING, Nov., 334 pp., $14.99)

Reviewer: Katelyn S. Bolds

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Gold Star Reviews are for those books that are just truly in a class by themselves. Given rarely.

Bookmarked Reviews are for those books you'll definitely want to put on your 'keepers' shelf! Given sparingly.

For more on our review philosophy, click HERE